Magazine article Sunset

Tackling German to Find Fine Rieslings

Magazine article Sunset

Tackling German to Find Fine Rieslings

Article excerpt

German Rieslings always taste better when a considerable body of water lies not too far beyond the farther rim of the glass. Maybe that's because the best of them are born on slopes above the Rhine and Mosel rivers. Anyway, the backdrop is a grace note, not an essential. Any tranquil setting will encourage a proper Riesling to help you smell the spring flowers, before they bloom or after.

All you need to make a kabinett or a riper, richer spaetlese show its finest side are time, a plate of simple butter cookies, and, in season, some berries. Indeed, much more than that and you spoil the effect. Whole meals distract from airy perfumes and tart-sweet equilibruims.

Kabinetts and spaetleses--the middle of the German sweetness range--struggle to reach 10 percent alcohol, as against the 13-plus percent typical of dinnertime Rieslings from Alsace or California. Some barely make 9. They do not struggle at all to develop wonderfully pungent flavors somewhere between grapefruit and citrus blossom. True to their grapefruity side, they are so tart that winemakers need to leave an exact shading of sweetness for balance.

Rieslings from the Mosel-Saar-Ruwer teeter between sweet and tart on the highest wire of all. …

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